Throughout history, people have gathered together to make things. Barn raisings and quilting bees, the shared work of planting and harvesting fields, knitting for soldiers and refugees, weaving fishing nets, all speaks to a long rich history of communities supporting and teaching skills, sharing with the next generation and providing an important position for the elders.
We lost something when we became a society that buys everything we need. The sense of community created by hands industriously working while tongues wag cannot be replicated in shopping. I noticed the other day that the silence of a group of women working diligently is not one of discomfort. The conversation is easily and comfortably rekindled as someone finishes counting stitches or quits focusing on a chart. And the joy when a member of the group finishes a project and models it is unmatched by the best bargain.
This is the lovely Liz. She has been a stay at home mom and student, working hard on her degree to prepare for the day when her youngest heads off to school. She has a knitting mother-in-law so she knew how to knit, but was rusty on the basics. She came to knitting circle initially to visit and see what everyone was doing. The person who can sit around watching other people knit and not want to instantly pick up a pair of needles is rare indeed, and by the end of the second visit we were scouring Ravelry for a good first project.
Since Liz knew how to knit and purl already, we had some leeway with the choices and the Lux Cowl met much of her criteria: sophisticated looking when finished, no shaping involved, and free (mine). She trouped off to the yarn store and took advantage of the free pattern by purchasing a gorgeous yarn in colors that perfectly suit her eyes and gorgeous complexion. It was expensive, but felt great in her hands, a good thing too, as she had some mishaps and had to restart the project a couple of times. She did so with good grace and many laughs. At our most recent knitting circle, she cast off with a flourish and modeled her beautiful new accessory.
As you can see, the seed (or moss) stitch is fabulous on such a large scale and the cowl looks great wrapped tightly around the neck or dangling loose. We all cheered Liz's accomplishment, and later I reflected on the discussions and commentary that were knit into some of those stitches. When I look at my own finished objects I see not only a hard-working garment, I see PTA meetings and play groups, parties and homeschooling and pregnancy knit into every row. Each item stand as a testament to what was happening in my life as it was created. When Liz wears her cowl, I hope it offers not only protection against our bitter upstate NY winters, but also warm memories of cold afternoons by the wood stove as a revolving group of women chatted about our kids and our husbands and our hopes and dreams and worries, building the bonds of friendship while executing a craft.